Less Plastic Challenge Day 15: Food Storage

Can you believe it? We can store our food without using any plastic! In the past, I used plastic wrap and plastic tupperware without even thinking about it. Today I offer some simple ways to avoid plastic food storage waste.

What We Can Do:

  • Examine our food storage habits and see how much plastic we're using
  • Thrift for secondhand mason jars, pyrex bowls, plates, or stainless steel tiffins for food storage
  • Begin to eliminate the plastics in our kitchens by switching them out for plastic-free alternatives

In the Freezer:

I like to make smoothies, which require frozen fruit. In the past I would buy frozen fruit in plastic bags. It was expensive and the servings were ridiculously small--definitely not worth the plastic waste. Now I buy fruit at the farmers market or from the health food store, bring it home, chop it up, put it in a mason jar, and freeze it. I leave a 2 inch margin between the fruit and the lid of the jar to prevent the jar from cracking as the freezing fruit expands. Here are some other things that I make at home and then freeze:

  • pasta sauce
  • veggie broth
  • soup
  • butter
  • bacon grease (from before I went veggie)

You can freeze just about anything, and you don't need freezer safe plastic bags, aluminum foil pans, or plastic tupperware to do so! 

In the Fridge:

Because I work at a grocery store, I shop everyday or every other day for produce that we will cook that night for dinner. This helps me reduce food waste. My fridge is like a ship--everything has a place or system to prolong freshness. For example, when I buy a bundle of carrots for one dinner, we use the leftovers for snacks. I chop the tops off and submerge the carrots root first into a mason jar filled with a little bit of water. The roots absorb the water, which keeps the carrots nice and crunchy for up to or over a week. For parsley and cilantro, I chop a little bit of the stems off and put them in mason jar with water as well. If you can only get to the grocery store once a week, then these little tricks are important to keep your produce fresh for longer. Life is busy and things come up. We might have had meals planned for the whole week, but we were too tired a few days in a row to cook, so we went out. This is exactly how my food gets spoiled, which is why I find it important to only buy what I need. I can also prep my food to prolong its life, giving it a better chance of not being wasted. 

Storing veggie scraps is also another area where we can opt for glass over plastic. Just made dinner, but have half an onion and lemon leftover? Put the cut side face down on a glass plate and pop in the fridge. No plastic wrap needed. Or, put it in a bowl and place a plate over it. Or put it in glass tupperware. If you can't live without plastic wrap, there is another option for you. Check out this beeswax wrap! I personally don't feel like I need this, as the methods mentioned above serve me very well; however, I think this a better alternative to plastic wrap and it can be reused for a long time. 

Storing leftovers is a big one. If we go out to dinner, we bring any leftovers home in a glass container, which goes directly into the fridge and is easy to grab the next morning and take to work for lunch. Anytime we have leftovers from dinner at home, we put them in glass, or if it's something like soup, we might freeze it. We often don't feel eating soup two nights in a row. 

In the Cupboards: 

 I do a big bulk shop to restock my cupboards once a month, or when we run low on staples (rice, nutritional yeast, popcorn, granola, legumes, etc.) We no longer have any need for plastic chip clips because everything in our cupboards is purchased in bulk and is 100% plastic free. I bring my own cloth drawstring bags to purchase all of our bulk dry food. For bulk liquids like olive oil, sesame oil, and tamari, I use my glass mason jars for obvious reasons. When I get home, I empty whatever I purchased in my cloth bags into mason jars and store in the cupboard. Storing food this way helps me see exactly what I have. Before I went zero-waste, my cupboards were filled with little plastic baggies of bulk foods piled on top of each other. It was very unorganized, and things would definitely go bad. It was tough to see what I had--I ended up buying things twice because of this; not to mention I was accumulating lots of plastic bags and twist ties, which were completely avoidable waste.